Yoga? Yes, thank you. We love it | AspenTimes.com

Yoga? Yes, thank you. We love it

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Though controversy has forced Aspen Elementary School to postpone a proposed yoga program, one Aspen private school has received full support from students, parents and staff for the same trendy program.

Aspen Country Day School held its first Yoga Ed. class on Friday for its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, the beginning of what ACDS officials expect to be a year-long program. Assistant Headmaster Roger Frost said the program’s debut won rave reviews from both the children and adults he polled.

“Every kid that I’ve spoken to has been extremely enthusiastic about it,” Frost said. “One [ACDS] board member, a pediatrician, watched the exercises, and he supports fully what the program is doing.”

ACDS officials have been eagerly awaiting the introduction of Yoga Ed. since the program was first proposed earlier this year, Frost said. When the Aspen Center for New Medicine first offered to sponsor the so-called Children’s Health Initiative ? a three-pronged effort consisting of an anti-bullying program, an eating disorder program and the California-based Yoga Ed. ? Frost said ACDS would be happy to have the help.

However, Frost said school officials were particularly excited about Yoga Ed.

“It’s an excellent program. It exactly matches our philosophy of educating,” he said. “We looked at the curriculum, and looked all through its philosophy and goal statements, and it matched ours right down the line.”

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Though Aspen Elementary School officials hoped to used the program to help its youngest students focus on schoolwork, ACDS officials found benefits for older children, Frost said.

“The thing I liked most about this program is that it supports children to find enjoyment and success in physical activity,” he said.

ACDS officials weren’t worried about Yoga Ed.’s possible religious aspects until Aspen Elementary was forced to postpone its attempt to launch the program. However, Frost said a careful review of the Yoga Ed. curriculum guide assured him that ACDS would not violate the separation of church and state.

“I’ve read that whole curriculum guide from start to finish twice, and there’s not even a reference to it,” Frost said. “In their lesson plans, there is some poetry, but it’s little-kid rhyming stuff. There’s nothing that could be construed as a chant or a prayer.”

During his review, Frost found only the statements Aspen Elementary Principal Barb Pitchford said she saw during her initial review of the program ? simple “I am” statements, such as “I am a healthy person,” that students use in the course of their yoga stretching and posing.

Frost did find a few words of Sanskrit origin ? something that troubled Aspen Elementary parents opposed to the yoga program ? sprinkled throughout the Yoga Ed. guide. However, ACDS found no problem with using words like “prassna,” a yogi term for a deep-cleansing breath, Frost said. Instead, Frost, a language teacher, said he simply thought using small doses of the ancient language would be interesting for his students.

Though ACDS officials felt comfortable with the program, Frost said the school held an informational meeting for parents this week to resolve any fears resulting from the Aspen Elementary School debate. Frost said parents seemed to exhibit the same excitement as their children over the pilot program.

“The only negative comment I’ve heard is, ‘Why couldn’t we have started this sooner?'” Frost said.

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